BY DR. LISA GOODMAN, DC, CCSP, CACCP
Spring in Denver is a tricky time of year. We’ll see snow and sunshine, tulips and tree buds, cold and showers, and my least favorite element, wind. We are in for 4-6 weeks of erratic weather which can be challenging to our landscaping, recreation and wardrobe, but can also turn our bodies upside down! The change of seasons is generally the first time of the year that we’ll start to feel the familiar signs of allergies. Signs like a tickle in the throat, runny eyes or nose, a cough, sneeze or rash.
This time of year it can be difficult to tell if you are suffering from a cold or allergies. Believe it or not, your allergic response can change as you grow from childhood through adulthood. You may have gone your entire life without any allergies, and this year could be the first year! In addition, as temperatures get higher earlier in the season, allergies are starting sooner and may be much worse than in previous years.
What are Seasonal Allergies?
Allergies are the responses of the immune system over-reacting. The word “allergy” means an altered or abnormal tissue reaction after sensitive body tissues are brought into contact with an allergen. The four most common airborne allergens are pollen (from trees, weeds and grasses), pet dander, mold, and house dust. The body, when exposed to an allergen, triggers the immune system to go into action. The immune system cells, known as “mast cells”, release a substance called histamine that attaches to receptors in blood vessels causing them to enlarge. The end result includes redness, swelling, itching, and changes in secretion (tears, sweat, mucus, etc). Allergies are generally worse in the morning due to higher pollen counts.
How to tell if it is a cold?
If it lasts longer than a few days without getting worse, it may be allergies. Allergies also generally include some form of itching (eyes, nose or skin). You will also never have a fever with allergies. Allergies tend to feel better throughout the day whereas a cold may get worse.
How to treat Allergies Naturally
Stay Clean. Rinse off in the shower before bed to get rid of pollen, keep your pets out of your bedroom and off the bed, use eyedrops to rinse your eyes out several times per day, do a saline sinus rinse (neti pot) every few days, stay hydrated, wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes and hair from collecting pollen.
Natural Anti-Histamines. The source of allergy symptoms is an over-active histamine response. Therefore, one of the best ways to squash symptoms and create balance in the immune system is by loading up on natural antihistamines. There are many well researched and safe formulas available from natural practitioners and natural grocery stores. Many of these formulas work far better than over the counter medication because they work with the body, rather than against it! Look for ingredients including Stinging Nettle, Quercetin, Bromelain, N-Acetyl-Cystine,
Immune Health – it is always a good idea to maintain your probiotics, Vitamin C and D during allergy season. Reminder – your gut is 80% of your immune system, better keep it healthy. Eating fewer processed foods will also help keep you healthy.
Massage – With a combination of back, neck and shoulder therapy, facial acupressure, and reflexology, Massage works wonders for those suffering from seasonal allergies. Acupressure, the ancient Chinese art of massaging key points anywhere on the body, has a lot to offer you and your face. Finger/thumb pressure is applied to key points on the face to help clear up sinuses, relax the facial muscles, and free up blockages. It can also help those suffering from eyestrain, headaches, sore throat, nasal problems, toothache, earache, and neck or jaw tension. In reflexology, the sinus points are found in the feet. By stimulating these points, the sinus cavities are stimulated as well. So whether you have chronic sinus issues, or just suffer from seasonal allergies, this massage can clear you up.
Acupuncture – A safe and natural way to find balance in the immune system and relieve symptoms of allergies is acupuncture. Using thousands of years of data and experience, needles used in the correct points on the body can have a profound effect.
When to see an MD. When your best attempts to manage allergies fails, it may be time to visit your family doctor. There are many variations of over-the-counter medications that might work for you. Most OTC medication works by blocking histamine production in your body. There are also many categories of nasal steroids that work well for serious allergy sufferers. Many of these medications have side effects including drowsiness or ‘medicine head’. Also good to know – you can generally take herbal anti-histamines continuously throughout the season and still take OTC medication as needed. Check with your doctor.
Yao – Part of the Wash Park Community since 1997, Yao staffs Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctors who will provide an accurate diagnosis first and treat your whole body with herbal pharmacology, acupuncture, functional medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy. www.yaoclinic.com
Wash Park Chiro – This one-stop-shop has seasonal allergies covered with pharmaceutical grade natural anti-histamines, acupuncture and reflexology massage. www.washparkchiro.com
Whole Foods Wash Park – these folks will set you up with a natural over-the-counter remedy for seasonal allergies.